Barbecue Chicken Caesar with Toasted Pecans and A New Living Room

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Before we went camping up near Rocky Mountain National Park last week–a post on that coming up — 

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Berthoud Pass, Colorado (11, 300 feet)

our house was yet again under construction. Two new baths were recently completed.  Are we gluttons for punishment? This time, a living room wall came down and the other old fabric wallpaper walls were covered with new wallboard and painted.  Easier than stripping that ancient stuff. Continue reading

Steak and Vegetable Kebabs with Rice Pilaf

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Truth in blogging: I took these with my iPhone in horrible weather.

When I was a young, newly-married cook, my mother-in-law Lorna often made kebabs for a treat or company dinner.    IMG_6111

Her ’70s old school style was to take pot roast — yes, pot roast — cut it up and marinate it for a few days–yes, days– before grilling the pieces along with whatever vegetables hit her fancy. I seem to recall canned small potatoes. I’ll admit I liked this meal just fine. I couldn’t believe it was pot roast and neither could anyone else.  It was just like steak. Well, nearly. Continue reading

Late Summer Vegetable Tortellini Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

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As summer wanes –– it was 50 degrees F this morning when I got up — the vegetables come in huge, lovely fragrant warm piles and a fresh, toothsome pasta salad feels perfect for supper in the lingering heat. No muss, no fuss, with fresh pasta that cooks in just two minutes; dinner is on the table faster than you can make the basil vinaigrette (thanks to David Lebovitz–scroll down for more) that simply makes this meal.

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Forgive the quick iPhone pic here of my very own garden bounty.

I threw this together as a side for some grilled chops for friends Friday night, but on Saturday Dave and I ate just this pasta with a little grilled salt and pepper baguette.  It was plenty to eat for us and probably will be for you, too.  Try this:

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Balsamic-Glazed Salmon on Zucchini Cakes with Kale, Peppers, and Mushrooms

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It is the time of the year when zucchini gets a bad name.  There are boring jokes bantered about, lots of eyes rolling, and tired recipes for zucchini bread dug out of old recipe boxes. While good cooks guard against eating anything but the tiny, tender cigar-tube-shaped baby bitty zukes, some of us still end up with nearly Little League-sized bats on our counters.  (Below are medium-sized squashes perfect for grating or stuffing grown by my old neighbor, Wendy Ruble.)

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I, on the other hand (as my sister’s friend Sue has noticed) never tire of zucchini. I don’t care if it’s small or large, thin or thick skinned.  The bigger, the better sometimes. If I can’t find something to do with it, it can’t be done. I love zucchini!  (Scroll down to bottom for a link to a post with my favorite recipes as well as favorites of a couple of other stellar bloggers.) If you do end up with a really big one, peel the sucker well, and seed it even better. Continue reading

Grilled Olathe Sweet Corn and Chicken Chowder–Festival This Saturday!

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This week marks Colorado’s 140th birthday…and the Olathe Sweet Corn Festival!

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Pike’s Peak — taken from my front yard.

 

In honor of those happy occasions, a soup based on our famous Olathe (pronounced o-LAY-tha) sweet corn seemed right for dinner. While I make lots of soup come cold weather, I do still make it in the summer–just not quite as often.  More than once, however, I’ve been pushed to create something using our Colorado green chiles, gorgeous Colorado potatoes, tender Colorado goat cheese (I like Haystack) and Olathe sweet corn all at the same time. (See bottom of post for other Colorado-type soups.) This time, however, the corn was so tender and fresh that I thought it deserved a soup where it became the star of the show–not just another lucky ingredient. Continue reading

No-Cook Dinners

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Food-Antipasti platter

  Antipasti platter or, in Italian, un piatta di antipasti.  A bit dear, but consummately satisfying for a special occasion. 

Every year about this time, there’s a night when we have only wine, cheese, and fruit for dinner. We eat it in the cool basement on three trays–one for each and then the cheese platter between us on the third.  An old movie plays on the tv. There’s not a salad or even a cooked vegetable and definitely not any sort of cooked meat. The wine is icy white or rosé.  Sometimes even the grill feels too much to do or too hot to light.

When the dog days of August arrive  –as they have– I always think I’ll post a simple little ditty on the blog with some of my favorite no-cook meals.

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  A few sliced cold leftovers add zing to a cheese, fruit, and veggie platter for two.

And somehow I’ve never before gotten around to it. But this year, I’ve done it.  Collected a few of my favorite pretty summer fun meals. Some are truly shop and chop; others are buy some cooked shrimp and throw it all on the plate with a little more effort. Several need new photos and I’m working on them, but included them anyway as they’re just too good to not be included.   Continue reading

BBQ Chicken-Grilled Veggie Stack with Southwestern Rice Salad

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While the old deck disappears and the new one is added, our summer dinner spot is gone.  This seems to be a theme in our lives lately. (Change is in the air.) Outdoor tables and chairs are stored in the garage; patio candles sit awkwardly in a living room corner. Cushions and pillows are propped up next to the piano or rest at odd angles under sofa tables in the family room.  We have cabin fever this year in the summer because from May – September, we do not eat indoors unless there’s a horrific storm or we’re in a restaurant.  Our life, from 5:00 on — when sun is on the western side of our house — is outdoors.  But not, sadly, for two weeks.

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Here’s what’s usually just outside our back door.

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Eggs on Risotto Cakes with Basil and Spinach or What to do with Leftover Risotto

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IMG_2702A Twin-Cities friend who is a member of the church I served in Minneapolis…

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Miss you…Prospect Park United Methodist.

… once told me, “I’m so glad when you give some ideas of what to do with the leftovers!”  I know I should do it more often, because creative leftover use is one of the hallmarks of being a good cook.  (And often we like the leftovers even better than the original dish.)

In the interest of being a conservative cook — and as a lifelong Dem, I mean this only in the strictest sense of the word  — who throws little away, I am sincere in using up every last little bit. Am I always successful?  Certainly not. But I try. It strums up my creativity; it saves a buck.  It stretches me as a cook, as a lover of food, the earth, and my own locale. It saves time. Sometimes I just want to read a Louise Penny book.

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Spicy Shrimp on Lemon-Chive Risotto with Tomato Salad or What to Eat After a Cruise

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A thought for the evening following a political convention:

“In a world so torn apart by rivalry, anger, and hatred, we have the privileged vocation to be living signs of a love that can bridge all divisions and heal all wounds.”

–Henri Nouwen

                               from a Diana Butler Bass post on fb

Just home from an Alaskan cruise...What words could I use to describe it?  None, I think. A few photos might help.

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Cream of Veggie Tray Soup with Cheese or After the Ball is Over

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NOTE TO READERS:  THE BLOG AND I ARE NOW ON VACATION UNTIL YOU HEAR FROM US AGAIN. Enjoy your summer. Eat all the tomatoes you can.  Drink all the ice-cold margaritas someone else will make you.  Garden as possible, hike, or walk in the park.  Get to water while the sun shines and simply look at it if you’re not climbing into a kayak.

Party leftovers engender their very own meals and why not?  This morning there were 10 leftover egg whites (from lots of ice cream making), a tray a veggies, pulled pork, tortillas, and salsa.  A few minutes later there were breakfast tacos. I did find a little bacon to start that whole thing off.  I now love pulled pork breakfast tacos.IMG_3664

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